Fireplaces are the heart of many homes in Washington State. With our cool fall and winter weather, they offer a place to cozy up. Seattle and Kirkland are home to many old and traditional homes with large fireplaces and woodstoves. However, we also contain many newer houses with all kinds of fireplaces: gas & propane, electric, and open hearth. While we love the beauty of open hearth fireplaces, gas and electric definitely have their advantages!
Understanding Your Fireplace
There are actually a wide variety of fireplace types available! While gas, electric, and open hearth (wood-burning) are the most popular, many fireplaces actually use gel and ethanol as fuel. Gel and ethanol fireplaces are easy to install because the fuel source is quite small and self-contained. And they still give you real flames! The downside for many homeowners is that they don’t produce much heat, and are less efficient for heating a home or room. The fuel can also get expensive with time. Electric fireplaces, alternatively, are an efficient way to heat your home. The catch? They don’t produce a real flame! The illusion they give, though, can look quite nice in a contemporary home, and their hot interior coils do a good job of providing heat. Gas fireplaces are also very popular as a low-cost option. They’re generally easy to install, have a lower upfront cost, and are efficient, saving on energy costs. Knowing which fireplace you have is essential!
Maintaining Your Fireplace
Each fireplace has its own maintenance needs. Wood-burning fireplaces and gas fireplaces that use a flue and chimney should be cleaned and inspected annually. Failure to clean the chimney and ashes poses a fire risk. Just in Washington, between 2016-2020 there were 403 fires that started in chimneys and flues! Pierce County’s website has a good list of recommendations for chimney safety! For wood-burning fireplaces, make sure you clean out the ashes regularly between uses! Electric fireplaces require maintenance as well, as they use a heating coil and fan. These should be checked annually, preferably before you start using it for the cold weather. Coils and fans should be clean, and if your electric fireplace fan uses a filter, that should be changed each year as well. For gas fireplaces, an important piece of maintenance is keeping a carbon monoxide detector nearby and having an annual safety inspection to ensure there are no leaks. While efficient, when neglected gas fireplaces pose one of the greatest safety risks. However, with proper care, they are very safe to have in your home!
Repairing or Replacing Your Fireplace
When you have your annual inspection, your technician will tell you if there is a problem that needs to be repaired or if it’s time to have your fireplace replaced. We recommend never skipping the inspection, as replacement may be needed to mitigate a safety or fire hazard. We love Heat & Glo fireplaces, and Enviro fireplaces, and will help you choose the right one for your family! Replacement isn’t always necessary, however. Depending on your fireplace’s age and condition, often a replacement part plus a good cleaning will have it functioning like new again. Your budget will also be taken into consideration when deciding whether to repair or replace!
The woodsy mountains of Washington State are a beautiful landscape for setting up a fireplace. Even in the suburbs and cities, our mild but pleasant weather lends itself to heating with a fireplace during the cooler months. If it’s been a bit since your last inspection, or it’s time for an update or remodel, let us help you with your fireplace situation! Start by checking out our promotions page. We offer discounts for our veterans, elderly, educators, and others who serve the community. Just want to talk? We love hearing from you, too! Stay warm!